A Mind in Conflict
(It Cracked Us Up)

Like many passive people, I have an enormous admiration for those who do daring stuff like engaging in fist fights, snapping at nasty people who really have it coming, and telling bald faced lies with a straight face. But occasionally, even passive people are granted the satisfaction of catching some miscreant in a pratfall without having so much as planted a metaphorical banana peel. This happened just yesterday.

Long time readers may be aware of a recurring communication gap between a certain noble, kind, longsuffering receptionist (okay, it's me) and a certain class of ninnies who call for directions to my place of work. One of them phoned at around 3pm, and my bright new trainee answered the call. So she flubbed the intro a little bit. Still, I could tell at once this caller was giving her trouble. Finally, my trainee put her hand over the talking into part of the phone (I don't truck with a lot of technical jargon) and asked if I would be willing to give the caller directions. I'm always willing to try. So I asked the caller, "Where would you be coming from?" (I know, I know--preposition.)

"Third Avenue and Osborn," she replied.
"Then I'd recommend you take the 51 to Shea, then Shea to..."
"What about Thunderbird? I heard Thunderbird was good."
"Okay, then take Thunderbird to Hay..."
"Well, I heard that Thunderbird turns into Redfield."

That was enough for me. I put the caller on hold and begged Adelle, who is a saint (and a new subscriber, welcome!) to take over for me. For some reason, callers don't fight with her over directions. She doesn't have a mean Nazi voice or anything, at least not one she's ever used on me. But she is a mom and may have developed one as a means of maintaining order in the home. Whatever her secret, the callers always arrive, though usually looking a bit smug for my tastes.

And that's what happened this time--a few minutes before five a blond woman strolls through the front doors and asks if this is suite #10. No, we own the whole building, I tell her. She asks if I'm sure. I don't say anything which she eventually, correctly, interprets as a refusal to dignify such a query.

"Maybe it's in the building behind us," I finally offer, and she leaves.
"I wonder if that was that caller," says my trainee, who is from New York, so this sounded really cool. "Cawlah" and all that.

I shrugged and my trainee went back to wherever it is she sits. I suppose I should find out where that is one of these days. Even fewer minutes before five, I was on my feet tidying my desk for the night (that is, putting my dictionary away and shuffling everything else into a pile) and the blond returned looking peeved.

"Is this where I get lasik surgery?" she demanded to know.
"This is Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company of North America," I said, and indicated the foot tall letters that said as much in my best imitation of Vanna White. "There is a business called Cosmodemonic somewhere in this part of town that handles lasik surgery, but I don't know where it is," I continued. "If you have their number, you may call them on that phone over there."

I can go above and beyond if I feel like it.

She sniffed, opened a maroon planner, and removed a medium sized yellow sticky note that had chains of big round fourteen point letters that ran up and down and across and over it.

"I got directions. I confirmed my appointment," she said and thrust the note in my direction.

Toward the top was an address on fifty second street, below that our Cosmodemonic phone number, and all around were bits of directions the blond had used to come here.

"That is your phone number, isn't it?" she demanded. Oooh, she had me there. I affirmed the statement. "Well, I called and got directions and confirmed my appointment."

Later, Suzanne recapped the "confirmation" for me, and it went something like this...

Blond: "I have an appointment at five."
Suzanne: "With whom?"
Blond: "I don't know the name."
Suzanne: "Is it with Blond Stick?"
Blond: "I think so."

So what we have here is a young woman, blond, demanding a consultation on lasik eye surgery with the Administration Manager from CDTCNA; and though the address she has indicates she should be in an office on Fifty Second Street, the directions she followed took her to Eighty Second and Hartford Drive. (I would like to dedicate the preceding run-on sentence to Pam Woodward.) When I told my co-worker Pat the story the next day, she said I should have had Ms. Blond make out a check for five thousand dollars to CASH, then sent her back to Tech Support for a lobotomy.

I'm sure that's what Ms. Vep would have done.

(Written by Sharon C. McGovern)

From Vol. 9
Get Back to Work!